Kandy

Posted by ross

May 12 – 15, 2010

We arrived in Kandy at the Sharon Inn about 3 hours after leaving the airport. We were shown several rooms and decided on the one on the very top floor because of the beautiful view down the hill to Kandy Lake.  We were both exhausted Sleepy smile so we barely unpacked and fell on the bed to sleep for a few hours.

After waking up we decided to venture down to Kandy Lake and visit the city.  As we were walking around the lake we caught a glimpse of this Water Monitor (Waran)looking at us from the edge of the water. There they live on fish and an occasional bird.

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Kandy and the Touts:

According to Wikipedia a Tout (Kundenfänger) is:

A person who frequents heavily touristic areas and presents himself as a tour guide (particularly towards those who do not speak the local language) but operates on behalf of local bars, restaurant, or hotels, being paid to direct tourists towards certain establishments.

In Kandy the name Tout takes on several different meanings. We personally were confronted several times by Touts. Usually they are rather obvious and annoying. Normally they are harmless and just ignoring them and walking away is the best thing to do.

Next morning, after our first night under an unneeded mosquito net Winking smileand breakfast of course , we were ready to explore some sights of Kandy and what it’s environment has to offer.

We hired a driver through the Sharon Inn and started with the Royal Botanical Garden at Peradeniya, close by Kandy, which is well known for it’s wide collection of  flora from around the world.

Here we learned one of our first lessons as foreign tourists: tourists have to pay about 10 times more for the entrance fee than the locals, which I find acceptable, since the average Sri Lankan earns very little by western standards.

We spent a couple of hours to enjoy the garden:

Selected pictures of the Garden

 

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This tree is over 20m wide!
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After our visit to the park we drove to the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnewala, which is a must if you like elephants Open-mouthed smileand Christel does. The entrance fee is adjusted to a tourist wallet: Surprised smile 2000,-Rs in May 2010. Don’t waste the extra money on feeding elephant babies, it costs an extra 500,-Rs, which is just a rip-off. As soon as those two heavily chained teenagers reach the feeding gate, from where tourist are allowed to place a bottle in their mouths, they drink the entire  bottle in less than 5 seconds, which is 100 Rs. per/second. Plus the handling and attitude of the local care takers is just disgusting. Be aware of taking pictures of the elephants outside in the open areas. The Mahouts first encourage you to take a picture of  your companion with an elephant and right afterwards ask for money, about 100,- Rs per picture per Mahout. We gave them a 100,- Rs. tip to share between themselves and didn’t earn one happy face. Devil

Make sure you arrive in a timeframe (usually mid-afternoon) when the elephants are herded down to the nearby river to bath and cool off from the scorching sun. This is included in the price of the entrance fee. This we found  to be a really peaceful and enjoyable moment.

Selected pictures of the Orphanage

 

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Christel and Big Mama
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They can drink over 200 liters per day
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A nice cool bath in the river
 

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At the end of the day the driver encouraged us to visit a spice garden, which sounded great to Christel. On our way back to Kandy we passed several and stopped at garden #24.  The garden was small and the entry fee and guide were free of charge. We were introduced to several plants, also used in Homeopathies, like vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon,  aloe, cloves, sandalwood, cacao tree, etc. At the end of the tour we received a facial and back massage, where they used lotions and oils made from all the herbs we saw. (afterwards a nice  tip was expected – of course)

As Christel sarcastically commented afterwards: smearing the body with oil without washing is a great way to preserve all the collected dust, dirt and sweat of the day. Confused smile

 

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Local Wedding party on Lake Kandy.

Our last day in noisy Kandy we dedicated to the temple of Buddha’s Tooth, a MUST. There the most important Sri Lankan reliquary of Buddha is kept, one of his teeth.

To get in the temple, you have to pass a serious body and backpack security check! Imagine the check-in at an airport.

As we were getting in line somewhere a Buddhist monk offered to be our guide and we gladly accepted, not knowing what we were facing .Secret telling smile

The tour went through the whole complex which is rather large. Even though we are not Buddhists we were able to participate in many of the ceremonies, which included praying, burning special candles and incense , walking around the Bodhi tree with holy water, and of course at the end being asked for a donation. If it is deemed big enough, you are permitted to write your name in the temple registry, which I did.  Actually, I saw this as a good insurance policy for our visit in Sri Lanka.

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Behind the curtain is the holy Tooth of Buddha

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Our guide was very knowledgeable and spoke English very well.

After the strenuous and crowded temple visit we needed a break. We found a spot in the shade on the steps of the Tourist Office nearby. We were working on removing our cutoff pants when Ross was approached by a very nice man who presented himself as being very knowledgeable about Kandy. We complained about the Touts and he agreed that it was really a shame that tourists have to be confronted with this problem.

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During my conversation with the guy Christel became attracted by watching a lady, who was sifting sand the traditional way.

 

 

 

 

We were hungry and also wanted to shop at the local market for spices and light shirts, so we asked him for directions.

He offered to show us the way since it was his lunch break but first he had to clear everything in the Tourist Office where we assumed he worked. We told him that we didn’t want to bother him but he insisted. After he went in (supposedly to clear everything) I followed him into the office and noticed that the receptionist didn’t seem to know him Confused smile and he very quickly ushered me out so we could go to the market.  All of my special senses were now alert but we decided to see if it was just a case of paranoia on my part or was he really a Tout as well.

We literally ran through the traffic down to the market, where he first led us to a suspicious spice stand inside the market place ( Christel refused to buy anything … she was just pissedAngry smile) so we hurried a floor up to a hidden cloth seller among a lot of other sellers, and there I bought a couple of light cotton shirts. Christel watched the situation like a hawk and had to bargain as wellWinking smileto be semi satisfied with the purchase. The tout didn’t have a chance to guide her to the women’s section to get a better “deal” on Ross’ purchases.

In terms of eating he guided us to such a disgusting place, we both refused to even think about eating there and wanted to get out ASAP Disappointed smile.

It was time to kick that guy out of our lives and trip. So we confronted him and told him the game was over and we didn’t want to see him again. He acted hurt but what could he do.

Later we had a real great Sri Lankan meal in a restaurant on our way back  to the guesthouse.

What saved the day was a confrontation with a Sri Lanken father and his son in a tea shop after our visit of a small garden above Kandy: the son asked for a picture with Ross and we really enjoyed the conversation. Smile

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